by Nyong'o, Lupita; Harrison, Vashti (ILT)

When five-year-old Sulwe's classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade.

Lupita Nyong&;o is a Kenyan actress and producer. Her first feature film role was in the film 12 Years a Slave, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as multiple accolades, including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics&; Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. She has since starred in Mira Nair&;s Queen of Katwe, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ryan Coogler&;s record-breaking box office hit Black Panther, and most recently in Jordan&;s Peele&;s critically acclaimed horror film Us. Nyong&;o earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in Danai Gurira&;s play Eclipsed. She lives in Brooklyn.

Vashti Harrison, author and illustrator of the bestselling Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, is an artist, author, and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She earned her MFA in film and video from California Institute of the Arts, where she snuck into animation and illustration classes to learn from Disney and DreamWorks legends. There she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now she uses her love for both film and illustration to craft beautiful stories for children.

Sulwe's "night-shaded skin" sets her apart from the people around her. Classmates call her names, she can't make friends, and no trick of makeup, dieting, or prayer succeeds in lightening her color. Then, one night, a shooting star carries her out from her bedroom into the origin story of Night and Day, two goddesses of starkly different shades. After the dark Night runs away to escape the world's cruelty, everyone realizes that they need her darkness just as much as they need the Day's light. This parable helps Sulwe understand that all skin tones have value, and she returns feeling beautiful. It's a lovely offering from Oscar-winner Nyong'o, whose own life inspired the story. Harrison's expressive illustrations-a duet of dark purples and light golds infused with heart and starlight-make it impossible to deny the beauty on display. A welcome celebration of Black girls, an important lesson for all kids (and grownups), and a necessary message for any child who has been made to feel unworthy of love on account of their looks. Grades K-2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

With the help of a legend about Day and Night, a dark-skinned black child learns that she is beautiful inside and out. Sulwe is "the color of midnight," the darkest in her multihued family, and is teased in school. She tries everything to lighten her skin: an eraser, makeup, eating light foods, prayer. Her mother tells her she is beautiful and that her name, Sulwe, or "star," refers to an inner brightness, but she can't see it in herself. Then a shooting star comes to her window, sent by the night, and brings Sulwe out to tell her about Night and Day, two sisters who loved each other but were treated differently. When Night left after people called her names like "scary," "bad," and "ugly," the people realized that they needed her. The stars added that "some light can only be seen in the dark." After learning how Night and Day are both needed, Sulwe knows that she is "dark and beautiful, bright and strong." Harrison's glossy illustrations faithfully render the features of black people, allowing the beauty of different skin tones to shine, with deep purple tones in the darkness, reinforcing th e story's message. In an author's note, Nyong'o shares her own past struggles with her complexion. A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way. (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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